Nine top tips on how to be an adventure sport photographer

Jody MacDonald adventure sport photographerJody MacDonald, an award-winning adventure sport and documentary photographer, works for the likes of National Geographic, Red Bull and the BBC.

The Canadian national kindly gives our Sports Liberated Business Hub hot tips on what for many is a dream career.

1. Huge drive
“You have to have a huge passion for photography but also for the sports that you’re photographing.”

2. Persistence rules
“Start submitting and keep submitting and submitting and submitting your photos, and hopefully people start publishing and recognising your work.”

3. Be your own critic
“Be critical of your own work. I used to be a photography editor and people would send me hundreds of pictures and I thought, ‘Why are you sending me all these crazy pictures – just send me your best ones’.

I think that goes a long way to working towards a body of work and how people perceive your work.”

4. Work in progress
“I am constantly looking at other people’s work trying to understand what makes a good photograph and why I like or dislike a photograph.

So trying to understand those elements and analysing an image makes you a much better photographer in terms of how your eye flows through an image and what works and what doesn’t.”

Clarissa Hempel Kiteboarding in French Polynesia by Jody MacDonald

Clarissa Hempel Kiteboarding in French Polynesia (Photo by Jody MacDonald)

5. Passion versus progress
“Some days it feels like a lot of work. It’s one thing to do your passion but an even bigger side of being a photographer these days is the business side and most of us don’t have any idea how to run a business.

So it’s a lot of hours in front of computers and in the office, and not being outside, and trying to market yourself and I think that is probably one of the biggest obstacles to adventure sport photographers or even maybe photographers in general these days.”

6. How to store a gazillion images
“You definitely need a system that is the most efficient for you – that’s something you don’t really want to spend time on.”

7. Utilising your images
“There are so many ways to utilise your images and it’s trying to figure out the industry and what works best for yourself – it’s very hard.

You definitely don’t feel like you’re maximising the potential of it.”

Kristin Boese jumps locals in Madagascar by Jody MacDonald

Kristin Boese jumps locals in Madagascar (Photo by Jody MacDonald)

8. Branching out
“I love stills and I will always prefer photography over video and I’m very much a proponent about following what you’re most passionate about.

I care less about the money side of it and because of that, I feel a bit like doing video is selling my soul and I don’t want to make these sacrifices in order to make a buck.

So if it’s a project that I think will work well for video and I’d like to do it then I’ll do it but just for the money’s sake I don’t.”

9. Opportunity knocks
“I never planned it this way but my kiteboarding-sailing business became the most incredible platform for me to start my photography career.

It gave me all these opportunities to photograph in these exotic locations as I was living on a boat full-time for so long.”

This interview was originally published in Sports Liberated magazine Issue 3 in June 2014.

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Author: Jo Gunston

Roving blogging superfan shares behind the scenes stories of her sports life and the best of those from like-minded souls.

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